The Chiko Roll is an Australian savoury appetizer snack, originally called the chicken roll and inspired by the Chinese egg roll and spring rolls. It was designed to be easily eaten on the move without a plate or cutlery. A Chiko roll consists of beef, with a mixture of cabbage, carrot, beans, leeks, onion and barley, which along with some basic seasoning would be semi-pulped and then rolled into a pastry based cylinder tube of egg and flour dough in which the ingredients are deep-fried in vegetable oil. The wrap was designed to be unusually thick so it would survive handling at football matches. Contrary to popular belief, the modern Chiko roll does not contain chicken as the name may imply. It was originally modelled on an Asian competitor's Chop Suey Roll. At the peak of their popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, forty million Chiko Rolls were sold annually in Australia and the product has been described as an Australian cultural icon.
The Chiko Roll was developed by Frank McEncroe, a boilermaker from Bendigo, Victoria who turned to catering at football matches and other outdoor events. In 1950, McEncroe saw a competitor selling Chinese chop suey rolls outside Richmond Cricket Ground and decided to add a similar product to his own line. McEncroe felt that the Chinese rolls were too flimsy to be easily handled in an informal outdoor setting, and hit upon the idea of a much larger and more robust roll that would provide a quick meal that was both reasonably substantial and easily handled. The result was the Chiko Roll, which debuted at the Wagga Wagga Agriculture Show in 1951.
In the 1960s, McEncroe moved to Melbourne with his family where he began to manufacture the rolls with the use of an adapted sausage machine. As the product became more popular, McEncroe moved his production to a larger factory in the suburb of Essendon. He later merged his business with a local company called Floyd's Iceworks to form Frozen Food Industries Pty Ltd. The new company went public in 1963.
By 1965, most Australian takeaway restaurants, especially Milk Bars and fish and chip shops carried Chiko Rolls, with the marketing slogan "Grab a Chiko" signifying the ease with which shop owners could take a Chiko Roll from the freezer and put it into a fryer, usually add a sauce and slide it into its own trade mark bag. At the height of their popularity in the 1970s, 40 million Chiko Rolls were being sold Australia-wide each year and more than one million were exported to Japan.
Increasing competition in the Australian takeaway food market in recent decades has seen a decline in the profile of the Chiko Roll, but they are still widely available at fish and chip shops and supermarkets across Australia. It is also a popular snack at sporting events around Australia. As it is a hot snack this is especially true for winter sports such as Australian rules football and rugby league where they are often sold alongside other hot snacks such as the meat pie, pasty and sausage roll.
Since the 1950s, Chiko Rolls have been advertised by an iconic "girl on a motorbike" (also known as the "Chiko Chick") theme. The accompanying slogans were "Dollar for dollar, ounce for ounce, the 1955 Chiko Roll still reigns supreme" and "Couldn't you go a Chiko Roll?" During the early 1980s, the accompanying slogan for Chiko roll was "You can't knock the roll". The company subsequently indicated a desire to promote the product using a more wholesome, "girl next door" image. On 17 July 2008, the new advertising poster was unveiled at the Wagga Wagga Showgrounds featuring Annette Melton as the new face.
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Since 1995, the Chiko brand has been owned by Simplot Australia and today has expanded its products to include: MexCHIKO Rolls, Corn Fritters, Corn Jacks, fish cakes, Spring Rolls, Veggie Nuggets, Beef Croquettes and dim sims. All Chiko Rolls are now manufactured in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia, on a specifically designed machine that produces the pastry and filling at the same time in long rolls. They are then automatically sliced and then the distinctive ends are folded.
Consumption peaked in the late 1970s at 40 million per annum and in 2011 was down to 17 million.
- Chiko's search for roll model, news.com.au website.
- "Chiko Roll Nostalgia", TV story from the Nine Network's A Current Affair news magazine program.
- McEncroe, Francis Gerard (Frank) - David Dunstan, Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
- "The Chiko Roll: aussie snack icon". Wagga Wagga City Council. Museum of the Riverina. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
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- Davies, Laura (2008-07-18). "Chiko chick is back". Fairfax Media (The Daily Advertiser). Retrieved 2008-07-18.
- "The Gold Chiko Roll". Wagga City Council. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- "John Hinds Poster Collection". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
- Chiko still on a roll fifty years on, Simplot Australia website.
- Pitt, Helen (2012-08-15). "Farewell to surfie molls and panel vans". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax). Retrieved 2012-08-15.